Imagine you spend 25 years building a life. You work, you volunteer, you find a community. You fall in love, you marry, you divorce. You start a business, you pay taxes, you contribute.
Then one morning the police arrest you and take you from your home. You are put into a detention centre and told that you will be deported in a few weeks. You have no idea why. You thought you had followed all the rules. You are shocked and confused. You aren’t given time to defend yourself. You aren’t given a fair trial. You can’t believe this is happening.
But this is what is happening to Israel Sanchez.
He is facing deportation THIS MONDAY (Feb 25th) and his last hearing could be THIS FRIDAY (Feb 22).
This petition is to urge Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, to stop the deportation of Israel Sanchez and release him from detention. Israel Sanchez can then have his case reviewed in a way that most Canadians would feel is reasonable and fair – with enough time to build his case and find good legal support and representation.
“I’ve been in Canada for 25 years. My values are Canadian. I think and act like a Canadian. To be forced out of Canada is, for me, an unnecessary hardship. My whole life is here.” – Israel Sanchez
In July of 1988, Israel Sanchez arrived in Canada and applied for Refugee Status. He was a Journalism student in Panama and had watched the government make many dissident journalists like himself ‘disappear’. His Refugee Claim was turned down (supposedly because Panama had a change in government) but he was granted a ‘stay of Deportation’ in 1995. Unfortunately, his lawyer at the time suffered a mental breakdown and did not file the necessary paperwork on time.
Israel Sanchez never heard from the government again. Now, they tell him that in 1998 Border Services put a warrant out for his arrest and tried to contact him. However, no correspondence or visits were made to his former address (where his friend still lives). Also, many of us know Israel and it’s not like he’s been living in hiding. He has had a very public life and would have been easy to find. He has also been an active volunteer in Toronto LGBTQ and HIV community organizations.
In 2009, Israel Sanchez and his Canadian husband hired a lawyer and put in an application for Permanent Residency. While this was being reviewed in 2009 and 2010, the outstanding warrant from 1998 never came up. Immigration Canada and the court system never mentioned it – Israel Sanchez thought he was following the rules and had no idea there was a warrant out for his arrest.
In 2010, Israel Sanchez and his husband opened a popular gay bar and lounge in the Toronto neighbourhood of Leslieville called WAYLA. He helped build an LGBTQ community and contributed to the local economy. Unfortunately, Israel Sanchez and his husband divorced bitterly in 2012. Israel is now self-employed and runs a media & marketing business.
Israel Sanchez has also made a application for Permanent Residency based on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds. This application has not yet been properly reviewed and the decision is pending.
On January 8th of 2013, Border Services showed up at his home at 10am and used the warrant from 1998 to arrest him, detain him and now deport him.
(Please note that this petition was created by Israel Sanchez's request using information he provided)